Do You Need a Permit to Demolish a House? (Do This ASAP)

Do You Need a Permit to Demolish a House

There are so many advantages to demolishing a house instead of undergoing extensive renovations. However, before you plan a demo project, you should figure out whether or not you need a permit to demolish a house.

A permit is required to demolish a house. If you fail to obtain a permit during a demolition project, the city will halt your demo, and you will face fines until you obtain the appropriate permit. 

To help you demolish your house legally, we have outlined exactly what you need to do to obtain your demolition permit as well as many other things you need to consider before you start your demo project. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

A demolition project is a great way to increase real estate value and have some therapeutic fun along the way. You can even save money by doing part of it yourself!

Here are some of our favorite tools to get the job done right:

1. Mechanix Work Gloves – Protective work gloves are a must

2. 15″ Crowbar – Perfect for removing nails and cupboard

3. Contractor Grade Trash Bags – Needed to throw out the big stuff

Do You Need Permission to Demolish a House?

Permission is required to demolish a house in the United States. The permission is granted by your municipality in the form of a demolition permit. Before you can begin demolition, you will have to obtain this permit.

The permit is to ensure that you are the rightful owner of the property, among many other things. If there is more than one owner, you will have to include all the owners on the permit after obtaining their permission to demolish the structure. 

Do You Need Prior Approval to Demolish a House?

You absolutely need prior approval to demolish a house. This prior approval is granted in the form of a legal document called a demolition permit. This permit ensures that you are following municipality codes during your demolition project.

The application portal to apply for this permit is usually found on your city’s website. You will have to create a user account and then fill out the permit and atta all required documents.

The permit is also in place to inform you of all the codes you need to follow during your demolition and rebuilding projects. 

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What Do I Need to Start a Demolition Project?

To start a demolition project you need to obtain a demolition permit from your municipality. This can be easily applied for on your city’s website. On top of that, you will need several tools to make the job easier.

Here is a list of some tools that may be useful for your demolition project:

What Is a Demolition Permit?

A demolition permit is a legal document provided by your municipality that grants you the right to demolish a structure that requires a building permit to construct. 

However, if you find that the building you are demolishing does not have a building permit, you still need to obtain a demolition permit. It is likely that the building was improperly built and did not obtain a permit before they started construction.

When Do You Need a Demolition Permit?

You need a demolition permit when a structure is planning to be demolished that needs a building permit to construct. You must own the property on which the building is built and receive permission from the municipality to demolish it. 

Specific situations that require a demolition permit:

  • A primary structure or structures will be razed or removed from a lot.
  • Any accessory structures with utility systems, mechanical systems, hazardous materials, or a basement-type foundation will be raised or removed from a lot.
  • A building that is having an additional renovation that requires a substantial amount of demolition

When Is a Demolition Permit Required?

A demolition permit is required when a structure that requires a building permit is being demolished. You will need to obtain the permit from your municipality before beginning the demolition project.

If you plan to demolish more than one structure, for example, a house and a detached garage, you will have to obtain a demolition permit for each structure.

You should check the various provision codes in your area to ensure you follow code. 

You might also enjoy our post on How to Find Out If My Neighbor Has a Building Permit

What Do I Need to Understand Before Filing for a Demolition Permit?

Before you apply for a demolition permit, you need to understand what constitutes as a demolition project. Sometimes a demolition can get confused for a major alteration for which you don’t need a permit. 

Demolition is defined as the removal of all exterior walls above the foundation. On the other hand, a major alteration can have at least 50% of all walls removed above the foundation.

So, if you plan on only removing two walls of a structure, this is considered a major alteration and not a demolition. 

Special Considerations for Demolition Permits

Depending on where you live and the type of structure you plan to demolish, additional measures may be required. For example, there may have to be specific site control measures and multiple inspections before the demolition can begin. 

This is common to occur if you plan to demolish a heritage building. The municipality may want to save certain parts of the house.

Additionally, you may also need an erosion control inspection and a tree preservation inspection with each permit you are issued.

What Is Required to Receive a Demolition Permit?

To receive a demolition permit, you must first complete your permit application. With your permit application, you will have to submit an approved grading plan and an inspected plumbing permit.

Additionally, depending on your municipality, you will have to submit a cash demolition escrow bond that ensures the demolition job will be completed safely, sanitary, and secure.

This bond is typically refunded once the demolition job is complete.

How Do I Apply for a Demolition Permit?

To apply for a demolition permit, you should first review the permit requirements for your municipality. Your municipality may have specific requirements that must be met to issue you a permit. 

You should then find out if your project constitutes as a demolition and not a major alteration. You will then have to prepare several different documents which include proof of insurance, performance surety, and site plan. 

After all of this, you can then complete the application through your city’s website, pay for the permit, submit your application, and wait while it is in review.

This typically takes three to five business days. 

You might also enjoy our post on Can You Demo a House Yourself?

How Much Is a Demolition Permit?

The cost of your demolition permit will depend on your municipality, but they typically cost between $200 and $400. The fee will depend on the square footage that is being demolished. 

For example, in Naples, Florida, the fee for a demolition permit is $0.20 per square foot of the gross square footage of the structure. There is also a minimum fee of $100, a plan review fee, and a $25 zoning fee. 

What Do I Do Once I Get a Demolition Permit?

Once you get your demolition permit, you will have to prepare for the demolition job. You should first decide if there is any material you want to keep and remove that by hand. These could be useful materials that you can reuse later when you are rebuilding.

Before you begin any major demolition, you need to ensure that you are allowed to demolish your house if you still have a remaining mortgage on it.

If you do not, then you are ready to go and can begin removing furniture, turning off utilities, and deconstructing and demolishing your house. 

Can I Tear Down My Own House?

Once you obtain your demolition permit, you are allowed to tear down your house all on your own. Just keep in mind that if you are planning to operate heavy equipment, you will need a specific license for this. 

House demolition is a fun and satisfying DIY project but you need to ensure that you go about it in a very safe way. You should always work in pairs or in a group, never alone, while demolishing a house in case an accident happens. 

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Can I Demolish My House Myself?

If you have obtained a demolition permit, then you have permission to demolish your house yourself. However, you should always check with your municipality just to make sure it’s allowed as these things can differ from city to city.

But, if you’re in the clear, then you have all the right to demolish your house. You should start with the easy tasks first such as removing furniture.

You can then decide if you want to demolish your house by hand or mechanically with the help of heavy machinery.

How Much Does It Cost to Demolish a House? 

The cost to demolish a house will depend greatly on your methods and where you live. Generally, it can cost anywhere from $3000 – $18,000 for a 1500-square-foot home. Per square foot, it costs around $2 – $17.

You should be prepared to spend a maximum of $20,000 to demolish a house. The cost will all depend on the equipment you purchase, the cost of contractors, the cost of dumpster rentals, and many other specifics. 

How Cheaply Can You Demolish a House?

Thankfully, there are many ways to save money when you demolish a house. The most cost-effective way is to deconstruct as much as possible on your own so you don’t have to pay expensive contractors to do it for you.

You might even surprise yourself with how much you can do! Not to mention the therapeutic benefits of smashing things to pieces. To save yourself time, you can also invite others to help you such as friends or neighbors. 

Do You Need a Building Permit to Demolish a House?

A building permit is required to demolish a house but sometimes houses are improperly constructed without a building permit. In this case, you still need to acquire a demolition permit. 

If you don’t have the original building permit for the house, this may slow down your demolition permit process but it won’t completely cancel it.

The municipality may try to contact the engineers and builders of the original house to figure out why a building permit was not acquired.

You might also enjoy our post on Do You Need a Permit to Build a Treehouse?

Is a Building Permit the Same as a Demolition Permit?

A building permit is not the same as a demolition permit but the process is much the same. It must be noted that a building permit is required to receive a demolition permit. This ensures that everything is up to code before the demolition process.

A building permit is required in order to construct a new structure on a piece of property. A demolition permit is required to tear that structure down. 

In order to obtain a demolition permit, you need to have the original building permit. And, when you want to rebuild after your demolition, you need to obtain a new building permit. 

Simple, right?

Demolition Without Permit

You will face consequences if you demolish a house without a permit. Any work that requires a permit and is done without one falls into a specific “work without permit” legal code. 

If you get caught working without a permit, you will receive a stop-work order from the municipality in which you will be required by law to discontinue the work until you obtain a permit. 

The city of Buffalo in New York states that you will have to pay $100 for each day you do not have a permit after the stop-wor order is issued, for residential buildings.

For commercial buildings, the fine is $500 a day. 

Will I Get Charged if I Don’t Have a Demolition Permit?

You will certainly be fined if you get caught demolishing a house without a permit. A stop-work order will be issued and you will be forced to either present a demolition permit or obtain one as fast as possible.

You will be fined $100 for a residential structure and $500 for a commercial structure each day you don’t have a demolition permit after the stop-work order is issued.

Considering processing times, this can certainly add up. 

Related Questions

When Do I Need a Building Permit for Renovations?

The type of renovation you are doing will depend on what type of permit you need. This can be complicated to determine and varies from city to city. It is wise to contact your municipality before you start any renovations. 

Common renovations that do not require a permit include:

  • Putting in new flooring
  • Replacing an existing sink
  • Painting
  • Putting up new siding
  • Replacing kitchen countertops

Do You Need Permission to Demolish a Garage?

You will need to obtain a demolition permit to demolish a garage. Keep in mind that if you have a demolition permit for your house already, you will need a separate permit to demolish your garage.

You can apply for the same type of permit as you did for your house just adjust the information to relate to your garage. If you fail to obtain a permit before demolition, you can run into some legal problems down the road. 

Final Thoughts

Demolishing a house is a great idea when you either purchase a home that has extensive renovations needed or you find the perfect property but the not-so-perfect house on it. 

Whichever way you choose to demolish your house, either with professionals or with friends, you always need to require a permit. This will ensure you are following your municipalities codes which are set in place to protect you. 

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